The ongoing saga of creating a beach at Sylvan Lake took on another life following Monday night’s council meeting and there’s a $100,000 budget available.
Mayor Sean McIntyre vowed he “will not give up on a sand beach in Sylvan Lake ever” and said “this is a hill I’m willing to die on, we will have a sand beach in my life”.
Councillor Jas Payne had a simple solution. “Is there any problem with 500 people going down with five gallon buckets and moving the sand?” he asked.
“I think the beach means enough to Sylvan Lake residents they would do it,” replied McIntyre.
Councillors were told two options were proposed to the provincial Environment and Tourism, Parks and Recreation departments.
The first was dredging and rebuilding a sand beach along the seawall and then protecting it from wave action by installing enviro-tubes.
Ron Lebsack, director of community services, said representatives of both departments “were not in favour”.
One thing the town would have to do before that action could be considered is to conduct a study to see if dredging would damage fish habitat or environmentally sensitive habitat. Department representatives also indicated they didn’t believe the sand would remain.
The second option, which was supported, was to create a sand beach above (south) of the seawall. The preferred plan, said Lebsack, would see a 10 foot grassed area or ‘trex decking’ buffer between the seawall and the sand.
“The beach has been a part of Sylvan Lake’s culture for over 100 years,” said McIntyre. He added it’s “hard for me to accept” the province’s decision.
“With a budget of $100,000, I’m willing to work on an environmental report — the way we dredge sand today I think has dramatically changed. It’s vacuuming rather than moving. It seems the province has left a very small crack in the door with regard to an engineering report. The questions need to unequivocally be answered.”
He indicated he knows Sylvan Lake residents who are going to other lakes (including Gull Lake) because they have a beach.
Following discussion he made a motion that council direct staff “to explore all options to create a sand beach below the seawall”. It was passed unanimously.
Councillor Matt Prete questioned, “are we willing to spend $100,000 on studies to satisfy the province, risk $100,000 to still get a ‘no’ from the province.”
The reply from Councillor Chris Lust was that if they want to fight the province “we have to be armed with information”.
Councillor Megan Chernoff said she’s not opposed to sand above the seawall, but couldn’t accept it being 10 feet away from the top.
Staff will now investigate what’s needed as far as studies and what the costs would be before returning to council with a report.